Fighting the Loser Syndrome Wednesday, Apr 27 2011 

Shortly after my job ended last fall, the work group got together for lunch one weekend. Everyone else in the group had found new jobs and so they were excited to talk about their new workplaces. I felt like a loser because I didn’t have anything lined up so I didn’t have much to add to the conversations. Walking home, I reminded myself that there would be some great opportunity for me too at some future date. of  later I began computer classes to learn how to design online seminars. I also did some writing and refinishing of furniture as posted previously. Learning new skills and getting some contract work have helped my self-esteem. In fact, I like running into my peers because I can talk about these new things.

But now, seven months later, the ugly head of loserdom is rearing its head again. There’s been some activity of interviews lately. I’ve been able to talk about my new skills and share my strengths. But nothing has cracked open yet. I fight off the loser thought by challenging myself to think creatively. How else can I get appreciation for my talents? What would it be like if I went into an interview and gave preposterous answers to the questions? What are three new activities I can try in my job search?

I also think about a comment a dear friend of mine who recently passed away made once when we were talking about our job searches. She thought employers would be competing to hire me because of my experience. She told me how she admired my adaptability and flexibility when challenges came up, and how something always seemed to work out for me. I smile when I think of that conversation.

I’ve been calling this period a sabbatical rather than a layoff. For I have been taking the time to think about what’s next. I realized that I needed a skills update and have been gaining knowledge in MS Office and curriculum design tools. I’ve designed some workshops that address some of the deeper issues of unemployment. I’ve made time for creative expression that can also be an income producer. And now I’m starting to internally challenge the job search advice I and my fellow career counselors espouse on a daily basis. We’re in a great economic upheaval, I’m following the advice I give to people; yet there’s something begging to be uncovered. Maybe this loser thought in my head is really a muse speaking truths I haven’t recognized yet.

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Reflections on unemployment Monday, Apr 25 2011 

It’s been 7 months since my job ended, and some days I am optimistic and some days I am afraid. When I taught job-search workshops there would be people who would say I’ll take any job. They didn’t necessarily mean it once we probed a little further, but I wondered what drives us to say things like that. While walking around Lake Harriet today, it hit me. People say they’ll take any job because deep down inside there is the human need to contribute to society. My best days are the ones in which I have something productive to do. My workshop attendees felt better when they were actively participating in society. That’s why those of us in the career counseling field recommend volunteering or working part-time in something that interests the client or gives new skills.

There’s only so many household projects that a person can do. After that all of us search for something to fill that need to contribute to the larger world. We might walk our neighborhoods picking up trash and recyclables that were previously hidden under winter’s cover. We might check on a neighbor who lives alone to offer companionship or help with household needs. Whatever the case, I recommend finding an activity that gives personal meaning, not just a source of busy work.

I wish positive energy toward my fellow job seekers.